After my latest WWOOF farm-stay, where I saw where my food came from firsthand, I returned to Bologna with a renewed ambition to eat local, organic foods on a regular basis. These foods use less pesticides — keeping our soil and bodies healthy — and they taste better too. (I’m extra motivated by the latter point). It also feels good to know where the food on your table comes from and to meet the farmers who grew it.
After doing some research, it’s clear that if eating local is your thing, Bologna is a great place to be. Bologna is teeming with initiatives that advocate for small, quality producers. These initiatives aim to reintroduce humanity into the food system by building direct relationships between producers and consumers.
TERMS TO KNOW
Here’s a break down of some of the main eco-gastronomic initiatives in Bologna:
Slow Food is an international movement that strives to preserve traditional and regional cuisine. Slow Food was founded in 1986 to counter the culture of fast food and the disappearance of local food traditions.
CampiAperti is a Bologna-based association that works to reconnect people with the source of their food by promoting the direct sale of goods from producer to consumer. The organization uses the term coproduttori (“coproducers”) rather than “consumers” to remind consumers of their vital role in the food system. In addition to its weekly markets, the association organizes initiatives, disseminates information, and collaborates with other associations throughout Italy.
Genuino Clandestino is a campaign supported by CampiAperti that opposes the placement of restrictive regulations on small, artisanal producers. They argue that it is unjust to have the same set of regulations for large, industrial producers and small farmers. Many of the products sold at CampiAperti markets are technically illegal or clandestino because farmers do not have specialized laboratories that meet the sanitary standards outlined in the regulations which were design for large-scale producers. This campaign was initiated in 2010.
G.A.S. = Gruppi di Acquisto Solidale or Ethical Purchasing Groups. These groups exist throughout Italy. Consumers organize themselves into buying groups and then cooperate to buy food and other goods directly from producers at a discounted rate. This eliminates middle men distributors from the food chain, reducing the explotation of farm workers and ensuring that profits land with producers who respect the earth and biodiversity. Groups generally focus on buying from small, local, and/or organic producers. They often support producers who employ disadvantaged people such as the disabled, immigrants, ex-convicts, and recovering addicts. There are numerous G.A.S. groups in Bologna, some of which fall under the parent organization GASBo.
WHERE TO SHOP
There’s the market run by Slow Food:
Mercato della Terra
Every Saturday morning (Monday evenings in the Summer)
9AM – 2PM
Courtyard of the Cinema Lumière, Via Azzo Gardino 65
And a number of markets run by CampiAperti:
4PM – 8PM
via Normandia at Borgo Panigale
5PM – 8:30PM (Winter) and 5:30PM – 9PM (Summer)
via Paolo Fabbri 112
5PM – 8:30PM (Winter) and 5:30PM to 9PM (Summer)
Laboratorio Crash at via della Cooperazione 10
5PM – 8:30 PM (Winter) and 5:30PM – 9PM (Summer)
via Fioravanti 24
5PM – 8PM (Winter) and 5:30PM – 8PM (Summer)
Cortile della Cospe -Scuola di Pace in Via Udine in the Savena neighborhood
Another option is to become a member of a G.A.S. group.
There are numerous G.A.S. groups in Bologna, some of which fall under the parent organization GASBo. Each group is run separately (so contact the individual groups for membership details). To give an example, as a member of a G.A.S. group, you might receive an email listing what products are available that week, place your order online, and then pick up your goods at a designated time and place later in the week. Some groups offer home deliveries. I’m not a member of a G.A.S. group (yet) so I can’t provide much insight here. Feel free to share your experience with G.A.S. in the Comments. At the time of this writing, G.A.S. groups in Bologna include:
Associazione Armonie, Via Emilia Levante, 138
armonie [AT] gasbo.it
Arena Orfeonica, via Broccaindosso, 50
bellearti [AT] gasbo.it
Oratorio Beverara, via Beverara 74
beverara [AT] gasbo.it
Quartiere S. Stefano
via Guerrazzi 14/E
centropoggeschi [AT] gasbo.it
Quartieri San Vitale
Via Paolo Fabbri 110
vag61 [AT] gasbo.it
Cassero, Via Don Giovanni Minzoni, 18
gas [AT] lapillola.net
The buying group of the Associazione Culturale La Pillola (“the Pill”), which organizes meetings on issues like sustainability, design, and food.
Via Cesare Battisti 9
Dispensa Fuorimoda is the buying group for the Associazione Cultura Fuorimoda, an association that organizes courses and conferences focused on food and wine. They offer weekly dinners through their Cucina Fuorimoda and blog about quality businesses in Bologna here.
What am I missing? How do you buy locally in Bologna?